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Voices / Letters from readers

How best to implement the will of the membership or ownership of a co-op?

RE: “Absurd interpretation of Policy Governance breeds contempt for the model” [Letters, Feb. 4]:

As a cooperator from Philadelphia, I can indeed say that those of us co-op advocates from across the country are interested in the news about co-ops.

This letter certainly helps fill in some blanks, and I must say that I am a proponent of policy governance as a means to help a board to better do its job: to implement the will of the membership or ownership of a co-op.

The members of each co-op are the investors, economically and socially. This commenter hit it on the nose: “[U]ltimately this is not really a fight about policy governance but about how consumer co-ops and their boards should deal with workplace unrest.”

The most difficult part in doing its job is to figure out what that will of the people is among the diverse opinions and experiences of the thousands of members. Policy governance is a tool — just one tool — in reaching and setting those goals and objectives of a cooperative enterprise.

Communication and the need to engage with the membership to keep confused, uninformed, and conflated opinion from making resolution more complex will depend upon the skills and gifts of each director as an individual and of a board as a whole.

We as a national community of cooperative enterprises have a collective memory of all those past co-op failures and need history on our side to keep talking and figuring out the best way to move forward.

We should find facts upon which to base our opinions before we solidly plant our flag, condemning one side or another and promising a fight to the end.

Shea Witzberger
Philadelphia, Pa..

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Originally published in The Commons issue #292 (Wednesday, February 11, 2015). This story appeared on page B6.

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